John and Boy Have A Coney Dog In A Time Machine
Perhaps it is because I am gentleman of a certain slightly advanced age, and maybe a bit set in my ways, but I have a distinct soft spot for places that have been doing the same thing the same way for a very long time. The kind of place where business is just fine the way it is, thanks, and they don’t need to change anything or pretty themselves up for the likes of you. George’s Coney Island in downtown Worcester, MA is exactly that place. From the impossible-to-ignore humongous art-deco neon sign that, I am told, drips animated mustard at night to the old wooden booths with the names of pretty much everyone in the world carved into them to the absolutely classic Coneys they serve, George’s is dedicatedly old-school. A coworker years ago who grew up nearby told me about it, but I never get out to Worcester. Well, a recent college tour with Boy put me right there, and when I go anywhere new and expect to be there around lunch, the first thing I do is to Google the town name and “hot dogs.” Up came George’s Coney Island and ping went the implanted memory and so we made the stop. I’m mighty glad we did.
According to the joint’s web site, the building dates back to 1918; the booths and big, gorgeous sign, 1938 and ’40. And folks, that’s pretty much the way it’s stayed. The moment you walk in the door, making sure you’ve gone into the lunch counter side and not the bar side, you are wrapped in dark wood and simplicity. Nothing fancy here. A menu of sorts is scrawled illegibly in chalk behind the counter but all you need to know, buster, is how to say “up.” As in “three up,” meaning you want three dogs with yellow mustard, Coney sauce and onions. Yes, you can get relish or ketchup or cheese, Mr. Fancy Boy, but come on–you’re at George’s Coney Island so get on board. The place is quiet and, it has to be said, just a little dingy. But, again, that’s part of the charm. No BS here, no need to be anything but this, a lunch joint for the average joe, a joint so good it’s been slingin’ the dogs for almost a century.
The dogs themselves are Kayems, sent to the flat-top to roll around a while. They’re the thin style traditionally associated with the Coney and its nearby cousin, the Rhode Island hot weiner. Into a rounded Arnold roll they go. Yellow mustard, a blanket of rich and truly traditional Coney sauce with as a nice touch of tang to it, and an ample supply of chopped onion on top. Done. Again, this is a no-frills, order-up, down-a-bunch, be-on-your-way dog. This was Boy’s (aka Jack–after all, he’s 16) first encounter with both the Coney sauce and mustard. He deemed them “excellent.” I would have to agree but my mistake on this outing was stopping at three. A six-pack at least of these delicious beauts would have been a better idea, and I’m certainly hitting that number when I stop by here again soon. I’m going to make an excuse to come to Worcester. After all, I need to be here at night to watch the mustard drip, right?
George’s Coney Island
158 Southbridge St